Political stability is the ability of the government to provide the services its people need, in order to build the public's confidence in the institution of the state.
Factors that Impact Political Stability
You must be able to examine internal factors that can impact political stability. College Board says specifically there are three specific impacts:
Methods to combat political corruption within the county
Here you must provide at least one example from each of the course countries, so let's get to it! The UK 🇬🇧, Nigeria 🇳🇬, and Mexico 🇲🇽 have all passed Freedom of Information Acts allowing for criticism from citizens. It also bolsters political stability as it builds the public's confidence that the government is willing to serve them, because criticism can lead to change (providing better services).
Contrast the ability to criticize in the UK, Nigeria, and Mexico with the inability to criticize in China🇨🇳, Russia 🇷🇺, and Iran 🇮🇷
In China, President Xi Jinping has used the courts and corruption charges to keep rival factions from power. This silences criticism and stifles change.
Russia 🇷🇺 in 2012 riots were held as many claimed that Putin's garnering of 63.6% of the vote was suspicious (Putin has also always won on the first vote in Russia, each and every time he has run). OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe) observed the election from the start and found irregularities every step of the way, from Putin having more access to the media, stricter requirements being required to officially be listed as a candidate for President, and accusations that there was repeat voting by Putin supporters. All of this resulted in massive protests in March after the election. Protesters were jailed and because the Russian government controls media outlets and limits internet access to information, the riots ceased and no investigations of the election were conducted by the media.
In Iran 🇮🇷 the media is controlled by the central government, as well as the internet and this makes it difficult to criticize or combat political corruption as there are no real outlets to question the government.
State responses to separatist group violence drug trafficking, and discrimination based on gender or religious differences.
The CED specifically names Nigeria 🇳🇬, Iran 🇮🇷, and Mexico 🇲🇽 as the areas you are to focus on. Let's look at Iran 🇮🇷 for an example of religious difference and gender. Women have the right to vote. The constitution also guarantees that Christians and Jews have guaranteed representation in the national legislature.
Nigeria 🇳🇬 and Mexico 🇲🇽 both struggle with violence.
In Nigeria, the terrorist group Boko Haram promotes a version of Islam which makes it "haram", or forbidden, for Muslims to take part in any political or social activity associated with Western society. In recent years this terrorist group has conducted bombings, kidnappings, and assassinations. President Buhari has recently coordinated military attacks against the terrorist group, but they have not been able to entirely eliminate this internal threat.
In Mexico, the issue for years has been the drug cartels. A number of drug cartels control large territories of Mexico as well as being responsible for government corruption and assassinations. The Mexican government has used the military since 2008 to combat drug cartels in Mexico, but they have taken a low intensity approach focused more on attempting to dismantle the cartels and less on preventing drug trafficking. The Mexican government's inability to stem the violence of cartels can undermine political stability, legitimacy, an vital economic industries. As you can see by the examples in Nigeria 🇳🇬 and Mexico 🇲🇽, not all factors that impact a regime are from within a regime, but rather there can be external factors, like terrorist groups or drug cartels that can impact the regimes ability to maintain power.
State responses to protest movements that oppose governmental policies
In authoritarian 👑 regimes, coercion (the use of force) is typical in dealing with protest movements. The Tiananmen Square protest movements in China 🇨🇳 in 1989 are a great example. Protesters were demanding democratic reform, and on June 4th the protesters were violently removed. Even today, China 🇨🇳 denies that there were ever protests or that the protesters were removed. In fact, if you live in China 🇨🇳, all references to the protests in Tiananmen Square are blocked. Russia 🇷🇺, and Iran 🇮🇷 use similar tactics jailing those who oppose governmental policies, blocking details through state controlled media outlets, and blocking internet searches of such protests. All 3 course countries have used violence and intimidation to quell public disagreement with unpopular policy.
In more democratic regimes like UK 🇬🇧, Nigeria 🇳🇬, and Mexico 🇲🇽 today, protesters are provided more protections, but of these 3 course countries protesters in the UK have the most protections and ability to impact policy making. A perfect example of this would be the recent Brexit policy. In 2019 massive protests in London led the lawmakers in Parliament to delay the exit from the EU. In Nigeria and Mexico which are emerging democracies, with deep authoritarian roots, protests are still sometimes put down violently.
For example in Mexico 1968. A number of demonstrations in Mexico City began springing up prior to the Olympics that were to be held in Mexico City. The Mexican armed forces opened fire on October 2, 1968 on unarmed protesters killing hundreds. However, the Head of the Federal Directorate of Security claimed and so did the government controlled media, that the protesters had opened fire on the military first. Government documents released in the 2000s (remember in the last 2 decades freedom of information acts were passed)seem to contradict the governments claims.
Unit 1 Recap
It's important to remember that unit 1 is an introduction to the expectations of the course. At the end of this unit, the College Board expects students to be able to understand how data is gathered, what types of data are used by comparative scientists, and how that data can be used to compare the 6 course countries (UK, Russia, Iran, China, Mexico, and Nigeria).
In this unit you are introduced to terms that will we need all year through each and every unit, terms that indicate what comparative scientists are comparing.
Here's a sample list of terms you should know:
Above all in unit 1, and every unit that follows, you as a student need to be able to apply what you have learned about how political institutions work in each of the course countries. You're also expected to be able to analyze data and trends and be able to create claims based on the data analysis to explain what internal factors cause institutions to run differently in each of the course countries.